Well, we know what huge game just came out and hey, it’s Paradox and they make amazing games, so while everyone was out playing Stellaris (yes, we all got it as well, and played a LOT of it!) we are continuing to work on .4, otherwise known as The UI Release.
As you can see in the featured image, we’re revamping to the foundations, including fully-3D planets and stars that move, show rotating moons, and have their own light sources and show the amount of population and development on the planet! We’re also added a new artist to our stable, and he is doing incredible things for the UI design! You can see a preview of the ‘retro-futuristic’ look we’re going for above.
We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the command modes and the UI switches for each, revamped the galaxy view navigation, and worked on optimizing the system transitions.
We’ll be posting a more detailed blog about the redesign soon, along with a blog talking about the planets in Imperia – they are much more detailed beneath the surface then you might think!
Hi all, Oliver here. This week I’m going to talk about how we’re putting together Imperia’s story structure – or, I should say, taking it apart and putting it back together again. I’ll refrain from giving away any plot details, so if you’re worried about spoilers, you can relax now.
Initially, the plan was to produce a story tree on which a single ‘cursor’ (in the programming sense) would progress from node to node, reacting to the gamestate, producing in-game effects and Twine-like interludes at each, until it hit an ending. And this structure I actually designed. Now this had a certain obvious inelegance – by the time you got to the bottom, there were four or five duplicates of most of the endings. But the real issue was that between any given adjacent pair of plot points you had to account for a whole pile of different potential circumstances: the gamestate might shift one of a whole pile of different ways, meaning each branch point needed to have a number of permitted outcomes. In practice, they couldn’t all have that many, producing a design which, while flexible, would in practice have come up with some weird situations.
This was all brought into focus when we introduced a couple of minor changes to the plot. Having read some really interesting and useful articles on plot structure (here and here, both well worth a read if you’re interested in interactive story design) I realised that what we needed was a ground-up restructure of the whole system. The result – which I’m in the process of setting out right now – is a system involving a number of parallel ‘blocks’ along which independent cursors progress and sometimes regress. Each block has several parallel versions, between which its cursor can move according to the gamestate – in particular, when certain characters have progressed along one or another of their potential character arcs, booleans will be flipped that shift several blocks from one version to another. The Twine-esque interludes and the in-game effects are still very much there, and are still triggered by the arrival of cursors at nodes, but rather than an enormous combinatorial explosion like we would face in an old-school Choose Your Own Adventure-style decision tree, the system allows unrelated chains of events to proceed in parallel without interfering with one another. If a character is not involved in a given part of the story, for example, Booleans relating to their character arc simply need not be considered.
This doesn’t just apply to separate, parallel storylines – not to give too much away, there aren’t many of those – but also to fixed points in the story that are only affected by one or two variables. I would give an example, but that would rather spoil the fun – I’d better stop writing before I give anything away.
Until next time,
Planned to get this up a little later in the week, but I was feeling frisky (and my recording software was cooperating) so here’s a short overview video of some of the main .3 features. Please keep in mind that most of .3 is under the hood, so while the ‘game world’ is more or less alive beyond character strategies and civilization AIs, the meat of the .4 update is showing this information to the player.
Shown in this video: The new trade system, the revamped main UI, the Command Mode system, and the foundations of the Project Bar and system.
UPDATE: The video showing the highlights of .3 visually is now up here: https://youtu.be/IaLunW37ibU
With a new month comes a new update, and after several months of development, .3 is ready for internal testing! Since it’s a foundational update, much of the work was done behind the scenes, but here’s a partial list of the main additions:
- Command Modes. Now you can work within a main command mode (Political, Military, Economic, Demographic) and all of your data, Project choices, and Actions will be filtered towards furthering that particular part of your strategy.
- Project System added. Project Bar and Screen added, as well as filter for Command Mode
- Trade System added, along with fleets, trade hubs, trade zones, and the concept of Importance with resources
- Province generation revised to be more balanced
- Manufacturing system balanced vastly downward in relation to the Trade system
- Houses more fully implemented
- House Banners functionality added
- Holding concept implemented (the idea that Houses own planets, systems, etc. and gain tax from them)
- Redesigned Main UI
- Relationship States added and finalized
- Emperor created (you!) as unique object in game
- Cultures added and initialized among the galaxy within 3 ‘zones’ (Imperial Cultures/Inner Ring, Border Space Cultures/Second Ring, Outer Rim Cultures/Third Ring
- GPP generation revised
- Game rethreaded to allow turns to generate while the player is still interacting with the map (i.e. no ‘loading new turn pause screen’)
- Trade Fleets added – they move on the map, show lines to their destination, etc
- UI revised significantly for new Command Mode system, more to come
- Political and Economic Galaxy Map filters added
- Additional core Actions added
So that’s .3 – and I’m happy to say that it is pretty damn stable so far! So what’s coming for .4? Glad you asked! By June, Imperia should have the following:
- Updated System and Planet UIs
- Military and Demographic Galaxy Filter Modes
- Main Game Screen redesign
- House Setup Screen/New Game Setup screen
- Emperor Setup Screen
- Power mechanic implemented
- Complete work on Project creation and add Core Projects
- Add core Actions for Characters
- Add Religions
- Add Options screen (save, load, etc)
There’s some other design work behind the scenes as well to prepare for future releases, but this is the stuff that you will see when you play. Very excited to release a new video in the next few days showing what we’ve done. As always, remember that we’re showing work that’s done way before a normal studio would – as we’ve always done, we’re showing people every step in the journey, and keep in mind that a ‘normal’ studio probably wouldn’t start showing work until about another 3-4 months in the process. Hopefully you like what we’re doing and we’ll keep doing it!